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World at One Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
After Railtrack, what next for PPP?
Transport Secretary Stephen Byers
Stephen Byers feels the squeeze
The Tory MP and railways expert, the late Robert Adley, famously warned his own government that railway privatisation could prove to be "a poll tax on wheels"

Last week, Labour's Transport Secretary Stephen Byers discovered, with the collapse of Railtrack, that it might be just that.

And, just as the poll tax lead more or less directly to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher, could Railtrack fatally undermine all Tony Blair's plans for improving Britain's public services by the influx of private money - the famous public-private partnerships - PPPs - which New Labour has trumpeted for so long?

Railtrack House
Will Railtrack be to Labour what the poll tax was to the Tories?

Labour's decision to subject Railtrack shareholders to what is in effect re-nationalisation without compensation has alarmed the City. Should it?

On The World This Weekend James Cox examines the case for the future of PPP's

So what next for New Labour? No one from the Transport department or the Treasury was available for interview, but the programme was put in touch with "Partnerships UK" - a PPP with members from the City and government which monitors and promotes the use of private money in public projects. Its spokesman tells James Cox that while the Railtrack debacle has damaged relations with the private sector the situation is not irrevocable.

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Does Railtrack's collapse spell the death knell for PPP?
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PPP facilitator James Stewart
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